Best shape of my life: Budler

Hekkie Budler (Gallo Images)
Hekkie Budler (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - The two-week postponement of the Golden Gloves boxing tournament has been a blessing in disguise for Hekkie Budler.

Budler on Tuesday said he was in the best shape of his career as the build-up for his fight for the WBA and IBO strawweight titles against Karluis Diaz of Colombia intensified.

The tournament will now take place at Emperors Palace on Saturday night.

"I always make a point of being in good shape, whether in training for a fight or not, but the extra two weeks of preparation has enabled me to reach a new level of fitness and I'm just raring to go," Budler said.

He said the only negative effect of the delay was that he was getting impatient. "I guess it has been worthwhile if you consider how I have built up my fitness level."

Budler's trainer, Colin Nathan, said while Budler had never looked better in training, Diaz was a dangerous opponent who would not be under-estimated.

"With 14 ko's among his 21 victories he is clearly a dangerous puncher and Hekkie will be taking no chances," Nathan said.

"We've watched videos of Diaz's previous fights and he is a good mover, who knows how to gauge his punching range."

Diaz, however, has lost four of his previous 25 fights, while Budler has only been beaten once in a career that has gained new momentum in the last 12 months.

Budler is rated as top strawweight by both the WBA and IBO, while Diaz is ranked fifth in the division by the WBA and eighth by the IBO.

The Colombian has yet to beat an opponent ranked among the top 10 in the world during his 25-bouts career.

Meanwhile, the clash continues to arouse controversy over whether the South African is already recognised as the WBA champion, in addition to his IBO title, or whether the fight is for the vacant WBA title.

The WBA rankings released this month show the strawweight title as remaining vacant, with Budler merely the interim champion.

Johnny Muller will take on Wilbeforce Shihepo of Namibia for the WBC silver light heavyweight title, while Ryno Liebenberg will come up against Joey Vegas of Uganda for the WBC international light heavyweight title.

Emperors Palace programme:

Featherweight: Phumudzo Monyai v Ricardo Hiraman (four rounds)

Junior welterweight: Jeff Otembio v Adam De Moor (six rounds)

WBC silver light heavyweight title: Wilbeforce Shihepo v Johnny Muller (12 rounds)

WBA/ IBO strawweight title: Karluis Diaz v Hekkie Budler (12 rounds)

WBC international light heavyweight title: Joey Vegas v Ryno Liebenberg (12 rounds)

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England 219
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England 219
Pakistan 326 & 137/8 (44 ov)
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